The Luck of the Irish!
One of the most confusing traits associated with an entire country is Ireland’s association with good luck – from the legend of the Blarney Stone to the tendency to the use of Irish imagery in games like this https://games.paddypower.com/game/rainbow-riches-reels-of-gold-gsgf, there is a persistent air of good fortune that seems to be associated with Ireland. But why? Ireland hasn’t always been the luckiest of places, with potato famines and internal civil war, why is it that the main thing most people associate with Ireland (besides the colour green) is good luck? Well, let’s have a look at some reasons why.
Ireland has all sorts of superstitions that are supposed to enhance your luck – the most famous of all of these is the four-leaf clover. The clover itself is also considered lucky in Ireland, a belief dating back to the days of the druids where the shamrock was believed to allow one to use magic to defend from evil forces. Due to its rarity, the four-leaf version was believed to be a more powerful upgrade and as a result was treated as a far superior symbol of protection. This imagery has persisted to this day and ‘lucky clovers’ are a common symbol.
Another element of luck associated with the Emerald Isle is the leprechaun, a small fairy you can catch who, after being ensnared, would lead you to his pot of gold. This legend naturally became associated with good fortune and the leprechaun as an image of luck is entwined intrinsically with Ireland as the spirit’s home. These and other superstitions regarding the wee folk and the blessings they can bestow has helped to re-enforce the idea that the Irish are luckier than other people because they have some secret knowledge that gives them an advantage, but this may not be the case, as the history of the phrase reveals.
The phrase “Luck of the Irish” is one from the second half of the 19th century, the gold and silver rush years in the US was a time of great competition, with miners seeking their fortune across the great nation of America. A large number of the successful miners were Irish or Irish-American and as a result, from the perspective of other miners, they seemed to have some element that they didn’t. Which eventually lead to the coining of the term “Luck of the Irish” to refer to their seeming disproportionate success rate when it came to mining for precious lucre.
The phrase itself originally carried a negative connotation, as though the only reason the Irish could have achieved what they had was because of their luck not due to hard work or perseverance. This negative perception persisted well into the 20th century where signs advising “No Irish” were relatively common-place, despite the fact a number needed to leave Ireland due to the potato famine and now found themselves in inhospitable new countries.
While this was a perilous time, since then the Irish have adopted this formerly negative title as a badge of pride.
What do you think about the Luck of the Irish? Superstition or a jealous joke? Let us know in the comments below!